Archive for Sunday, January 26, 2003

Pierce touched by jersey-retirement ceremony

January 26, 2003


Paul Pierce nudged Boston Celtics coach Jim O'Brien during the fourth quarter of the Celtics' 77-58 victory over Denver on Friday night in Beantown.

"I was telling coach to let me leave so I could get back to Kansas quicker," former KU forward Pierce said Saturday afternoon after an emotional jersey retirement ceremony at Allen Fieldhouse.

O'Brien wasn't about to let Pierce depart the Fleet Center early.

Not on a night he lit up the Nuggets for 45 points.

"Getting to come back for this game means a lot to me," Pierce said at halftime of the KU-Arizona game.

"I always felt I never had a chance to say goodbye to the fans. Seniors get to say goodbye and I never had a Senior Day," noted the NBA All-Star, who left college after the 1997-98 season, his junior season at Kansas

"Now this completes my storybook career at Kansas."

Pierce wasn't the only former Jayhawk in the house. He chatted with Terry Nooner, Eric Chenowith and Jeff Carey, among others, on hand for the game and jersey ceremony.

"I have so many great memories," Pierce said. "We never lost a game here. When I got here (today), I wanted to put on a uniform and play."

Pierce said he never would forget KU and what his college experience meant to his career.

"Coach Williams always said, 'The sky is the limit. You can be one of the best to play the game. It just depends on how hard you work,''' Pierce said. "I've put in the work and will never be satisfied."

Pierce was gracious during a short speech to the 16,300 fans at the fieldhouse.

"I am holding in a lot of emotions right now," he said. "These were the best days of my life. Coming back gives me a chance to be a kid again."

"It was great to see him," KU coach Roy Williams said. "Paul Pierce was a great, great player for us. He's still one of the greatest players in all the world and was a pleasure to coach."

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